This year is going to be different. I have been saying this for pretty near two months now but after today, I am sure it’s true.
I am in room 5. It’s the first time since my internship twelve years ago that I have had a room. Back at the high school, they were shared properties; communally decorated and maintained and, sometimes, defiled by upwards of five inhabitants.
But now I have a room. One room. For my students and me.
It’s typical, I suppose, in a kind of public school, ground-level, looks-out-on-the-puddled-parking lot way. Yes, a giant garbage pail collected a tea-colored liquid that dripped steadily from the sodden ceiling tiles above and, yes, there was a sadness to the room that turned the walls a depressingly mediocre hue of yellow, but what really caught my attention was that…THING!
What was it?
“Oh that!” said the veteran of a decade of teaching in the building. “That was for training bank tellers. See the cameras?” She pointed to the corners of the room. Indeed, video cameras of varying antiquity stared at us from every direction. So the town police had constructed a mock-up of a bank and used this room to train bank tellers. And that aforementioned thing? That monstrosity of gold-flecked Formica and oak wood paneling? That, she explained, had been the desk behind which the tellers had stood awaiting the entrance of their assailants. Presumably, a policeman had posed as a bank-robber and, in something that instantly made me think of Monty Python skits, burst into the room yelling, ‘Stick-em up!’ or “Gimme all the dough!’
“Can we get rid of it?” I asked.
She confessed that she had tried but the building maintenance staff had stopped her fearing that she would electrocute herself.
“It’s not wired, though” she said. “There’s no power going to it.” She had, in fact, made a pretty good whack at destroying the beast to the extent that it’s flimsiness was exposed for all the world to see as well as several, snaggled ten-penny nails that protruded nastily from both its ends.
So there it was. And there I was.
I examined the structure and then, carefully, lifted the countertop a cautious inch just to see what would happen. I met no resistance at all and soon I had the thing in pieces and out the fire window and half of it stacked neatly in the parking lot next to the maintenance truck.
And then the trouble began.